What They Said About Climate Last Night
It was late in the debate and hard to follow. But the exchange about climate change was important.
There was actually a substantive discussion of climate change at the debate last night. Many people had literally tuned out by then. Others were too distracted by Trump’s interruptions. Here are the key things that were actually said, culled from a transcript of the debate.
Wallace: . . . Mr. President, you said, I don’t think the science knows. Over your four years, you have pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord. You have rolled back a number of Obama Environmental records, what do you believe about the science of climate change and what will you do in the next four years to confront it?
* * *
Trump: . . . I think a lot of things do, but I think to an extent, yes. I think to an extent, yes, but I also think we have to do better management of our forest. . . .
Wallace: But sir if you believe in the science of climate change, why have you rolled back the Obama Clean Power Plan which limited carbon emissions and power plants? Why have you relaxed…?
Trump: Because it was driving energy prices through the sky.
Biden: Why have you relaxed fuel economy standards that are going to create more pollution from cars and trucks?
Trump: Well, not really because what’s happening is the car is much less expensive and it’s a much safer car and you talk it about a tiny difference. . . .
Wallace: But in the case of California they have simply ignored that.
Trump: . . . . I’ve given big incentives for electric cars but what they’ve done in California is just crazy.
Wallace: All right, Vice president Biden. I’d like you to respond to the president’s climate change record but I also want to ask you about a concern [about the cost of Biden’s plan]. The president says a lot of these things would tank the economy and cost millions of jobs.
Biden: . . . Nobody’s going to build another coal fired plant in America. No one’s going to build another oil fire plant in America. They’re going to move to renewable energy. . . . Making sure that we can do that, we’re going to put 500,000 charging stations in all of the highways that we’re going to be building in the future. We’re going to build a economy that in fact is going to provide for the ability of us to take 4 million buildings and make sure that they in fact are weatherized …
Biden: . . . And the first thing I will do, I will rejoin the Paris Accord. . . .
Wallace: What about the argument that President Trump basically says, that you have to balance environmental interests and economic interests? And he’s drawn his line.
* * *
Trump: He’s talking about the Green New Deal. And it’s not 2 billion or 20 billion, as you said]. It’s $100 trillion.
Biden: I’m talking about the Biden plan.
* * *
Wallace: [describes Biden’s plan] I think some people who support the president would say, that sounds like it’s going to cost a lot of money and hurt the economy.
Biden: What it’s going to do, it’s going to create thousands and millions of jobs. Good paying jobs.
Trump: . . . The Green New Deal is a hundred trillion dollars.
* * *
Biden: No, I don’t support the Green New Deal. . . . I support the Biden plan that I put forward.
So there you have it. By far the biggest discussion of climate change we’ve ever had in a presidential debate. Too bad many people had stopped listening by then, or couldn’t follow it because of Trump’s constant interruptions.
Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…READ more